Pontiff Reproaches Scientific Arrogance

Says Work Often Not Focused on Good of Humanity

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 20, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Scientists are not always governed by the pursuit of the well-being and progress of humanity, but sometimes by «easy gain» and the arrogance of taking God’s place, Benedict XVI says.

The Pope made these remarks Thursday in an audience with participants from the international «Faith in Reason» conference that was held Thursday through Sunday at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.

The event was organized for the 10th anniversary of the publication of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical «Fides et Ratio.»

In that document, Benedict XVI explained, there is an emphasis on «the importance of joining faith and reason in their reciprocal relation while respecting the autonomous sphere of each.»

The conference, which gathered philosophers, theologians and scientists, is the fruit of collaboration between the Lateran University, the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Science and the Global Conference of Catholic University Institutes of Philosophy. It touched on topics in anthropology, ethics and politics, science, metaphysics and interreligious discussion.

The Bishop of Rome observed that over the course of time there has been a shift from «predominantly speculative thought to one that is much more experiential,» which has led to a divide between faith and reason.

«Research,» he said, «has turned above all to the observation of nature in the attempt to discover its secrets. The desire to know nature has transformed itself into the will to reproduce it. The scientific and technological conquest […] has marginalized the reason that pursued the ultimate truth of things to make way for a reason that is satisfied with discovering the contingent truth of the laws of nature.»

No fear

The Holy Father clarified that faith has no fear of the «progress of science and the developments that its conquests lead to, when these aim at benefiting man, his well-being and the progress of all humanity.»

But, he said, «scientific research does not always have these as its ends.»

«Easy gain or, worse still, the arrogance of taking the place of the Creator, at times play a decisive role,» the Pope affirmed, emphasizing the threat that such mentalities can pose for humanity.

«But science is not competent to elaborate ethical principles; it can only accept them in themselves and recognize them as necessary for overcoming [science’s] possible pathologies,» he continued.

Benedict XVI affirmed that science could derive much fruit from a constructive dialogue with philosophy and theology.

«This would not at all aim at limiting scientific research or at preventing technology from producing instruments of development,» he explained. «It would aim rather at keeping alive the sense of responsibility that reason and faith have for science so that science would continue to carry out its work in the service of man.

«The truth of revelation does not superimpose itself on the truth discovered by reason; rather, it purifies reason and elevates it, permitting it thus to expand its own sphere and insert itself into a field of research that is as unfathomable as the mystery itself.»

The Pope said that the Word of God is the «definitive answer […] to the passion for truth.» It is a «Word of revelation that becomes life and that asks that it be received as an inexhaustible source of truth.»

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